I started thinking about this after reading Alexander Kjuerulf’s (The Chief Happiness Officer) examination of “What the heck is work anyway?” (quoting)
• If work is simply what you do because you have to, then happiness at work is almost impossible by definition.
• If work is only what you do for money, it eliminates all volunteer work.
• If work is only what you do for a purpose, then all aspects of your job that are not productive are no longer work.
I’m not claiming to have the answer yet, but as I see it here are some elements of a definition if work that is conducive to happiness:
• Work is something you choose to do. You may not have a choice of whether or not to work but you have choice in what work you do.
• Work is something you’re valued for. Either someone pays you for your work or someone takes the time and resources to organize your work.
• Work is an activity where you make a positive difference for someone else.
Whether or not you agree with where Alexander is going with this, he is absolutely correct that work is a choice. You can choose not to work (and face the consequences on your lifestyle), you can choose the work you do.
But a critical element that Alexander leaves out – you can also choose your attitude. If the work you do every day is not something you “love,” you can choose to do it with an attitude that expresses your desire to do a good job, deliver an excellent end product, and respect those around you.
Even if you tend to love the work you do, but occasionally get an assignment you don’t enjoy or teammates who rub you the wrong way, you can still choose your attitude.
To Alexander's credit, a more recent post on his blog included this excellent example of choosing your attitude at work with this restroom attendant:
It’s that ability to choose that sets us apart. Those around us (bosses and colleagues alike) make it easier to choose a positive attitude by appreciating our efforts and the attitude we demonstrate in accomplishing our goals. Encouraging and reinforcing the right attitude as well as the right results is a large part of the discussion in our new book, Winning with a Culture of Recognition, as well.
What attitude will you choose today?
Be sure to check out our new book "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," available on Amazon for pre-order now!